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Book Review: The Warrior’s Guild Series, by Scarlett Gale

I purchased ecopies of His Secret Illuminations and His Sacred Incantations, by Scarlett Gale. I read them back to back. So, I’m going to review them together. You can apparently buy signed copies from the author, which I wish I’d known before supporting the Zon. But oh well, hindsight is 20-20 and all.

his secret illuminations scarlett Gale

 about the book

A Sheltered Monk

By day, Lucían brews potions and illuminates manuscripts in service to the monastery that took him in as a child, wielding magic based in his faith and his purity. By night, he dreams of the world outside the cloister–a world he knows only in books and scrolls…

A Mysterious Warrior

A mercenary known as the She-Wolf hunts for a shipment of stolen manuscripts. When she needs a mage to track them down, she chooses Lucían for both his adorable blushes and his magic. She purchases his contract, hurling him headfirst into an adventure that will test both his skills and his self-control…

A Sacred Vow

Inexorably drawn to the She-Wolf’s strength, surprising kindness, and heated touches, Lucían fights temptation at every turn. His holy magic is both vital to their mission and dependent upon his purity. How can he serve both her and the Lord if he gives in to his desire? As intrigue and danger forces them closer, how can he possibly resist?

my review

I saw His Secret Illuminations recommended in a Fantasy Fans forum where someone had requested books with strong, martial women defending weaker, nerdier men. I’ve read a couple books recommended in that thread and, I have to say, this is the first one that REALLY fits what the OP was asking for and I really enjoyed it. I went right out and bought book two on finishing this one, in fact.

Having said that, I’ll acknowledge that the plot is slooooow. So slow you have to occasionally remind yourself that there is one. So slow that it’s clear that it’s really just the set design that Lucian and Glory’s burgeoning relationship plays out against. Usually I’d have a problem with that. But, honestly, I just love Lucian so much I couldn’t bring myself to care. I liked Glory too, but the book is from Lucian’s POV and he’s just a marvelous character.

And I just adored seeing so many tropes and unspoken expectations turned on their head. There’s the obvious, like Glory being significantly larger and stronger of the two. But there’s also subtler things like her being a deadly warrior, but not also being the literary equivalent of an emotionally stunted man with tits. She wears makeup and dresses, does needle point, has ‘monthlies,’ etc. She is both deadly and allowed to express traditionally female traits. This is a lot rarer than you might think. So often authors seem to think being strong means being manly and therefore a strong woman isn’t allowed to simultaneously be womanly. I really liked seeing Gale not fall into that trap.

The writing is quite readable. The book is genuinely longer than it needs to be and a word, phrase, or mentality clanged as anachronistic on occasion. There is definitely a bit of what feels like modern mentalities being painted on historical peoples. But it’s fantasy, so Gale’s free to do that. It certainly makes for more pleasant circumstances. All in all, I can’t wait to jump into His Sacred Incantations.

his secret illuminations photo

about the book

A Secret Desire

Lucían left behind his cloister, his vows, and his self-denial when he joined Glory, first for a quest and then in her bed. He tells himself he should be happy, but when he looks at her strong arms, her sharp smile, and her easy dominance, he wants, wants something he can’t put a name to…

A Deadly Foe

Something dangerous lurks in the mountains above Granite Falls, something with fangs and claws and a horrible curse. No one has yet found the cause, and Lucían can’t help wondering why it all seems so familiar, and why his dreams are full of cold stone and dark magic…

A Dangerous Mission

When the source of the attacks turns out to be something from Lucían’s past, he finds himself once more embroiled in an adventure he wasn’t expecting. He’ll end this, once and for all, or die trying… But his friends from the Warrior’s Guild won’t let him do it alone!

my review

This is a hard book to review. Because I liked it. There’s no denying that. But I so liked book one and just don’t feel like this one stands up to it. And it’s hard not to let my disappointment color my objectivity and general opinion.

Like His Secret Illuminations (HSI), the writing here is fun and easy to read. It’s full of a diverse and quirky cast of characters, all of whom I like. But unlike HSI it didn’t have the glorious sexual tension to carry the long, slow plot. Instead it had all the sex instead. And while I enjoy a good sex scene (and I’ll grant that the scenes here were at least varied) I eventually started skimming them because I was bored of them. I felt like they got in the way of the plot.

Plus, while HSI was full of Lucian’s internal conflict, which grabbed and held me rapt. His Sacred Incantation has Lucian and Glory’s wholesome love. And while that’s not a bad thing, it too became super repetitive. For example, my kindle tells me the word love was used 131 times in the book. Between calling each other “my love” and telling each other that they love one another that’s a lot of love. What’s worse, my kindle also tells me the word kiss (or variations of the word—kissing, kissed, etc) was used 168 times. And that’s just kiss; it doesn’t include “pecked on the cheek” or “pressed her lips to his temple,” or any of a million other ways to describe a kiss. The book isn’t even 400 pages long. That’s an awful lot of kissing going on, like more than one every other page! I just got bored with it all. It’s sweet, but sweet won’t carry a book like internal conflict will, in my experience.

Lastly (and I’m not entirely sure how to phrase this), some of the kink-play felt too recognizably modern to fit the fantasy setting. While I’m well aware that there really isn’t anything new under the sun, humans have done it all before, when Gale brought out the kinky collars and leashes (for example) if just felt so very like this moment in time, instead of the fantasy historical time period of the rest of the book. It’s not that I didn’t think it fit Lucian and Glory’s kink, it’s that I felt like the kink being expressed in such a stereotypically recognizable way didn’t fit the the fantasy world. Like maybe Gale was trying to catch the market since that was, after all, fairly common trope in erotica for a while. It stood out from the rest of the story, the leash especially.

All in all, this is a likeable book. Despite my complaints, I liked it. I’ll probably read anything Gale puts out after this. But I simply couldn’t like it as much as HSI and that’s a shame.



fate of perfection breene

Book Review: Fate of Perfection, by K.F. Breene

I borrowed a copy of K.F. Breene‘s Fate of Perfection through Amazon Prime Reading.

fate of perfection kf breene

In a corporate-controlled future where the ruling conglomerates genetically engineer their employees, Millicent Foster is the best of the best.

Physically perfect and exceptionally intelligent, Millicent is granted the uncommon privilege of breeding. But her daughter inherits more than superior genetics…little Marie has a rare ability that the world has never seen, and her conglomerate, Moxidone, will stop at nothing to have sole possession of the child.

Teamed with Ryker, the formidable master of security, Millicent must risk everything in a life-and-death struggle to tear her daughter away from the ruling force who wants to own them all. The odds are stacked against them, but Moxidone will learn that the pursuit of perfection comes at a perilous cost—and that love can’t be bought at any price.

my review

I enjoyed this. It’s pulpy sci-fi romance, so no one would call it great literature. But I still enjoyed it, even as I see flaws in it.

Ryker was an alpha a-hole, which I didn’t appreciate. But he also decided to protect ‘his family’ and went about doing just that, which I did appreciate. I also liked that for a lot of the book he, Millicent, and Marie are a family by virtue of a baby between them. That means they are a family unit because they decided so, not because of any romantic connection or a legally binding marriage, etc (that comes later and is a super weak—though not insignificant—part of the plot-line). Ryker and Millicent are two adults who decide to function as a pair because they have a child to protect. It ticked a lot of emotional boxes for me.

Trent’s sarcasm cracked me up and, though not all of Ryker and Millicent’s banter was a bullseye for me, I generally thought it amusing. The science was super hand-wavey, but the book didn’t really need much more. All in all, a winner. I’ll happily read another.

fate of perfection photo

Other Reviews:

Review – Fate of Perfection

Fate of Perfection (Finding Paradise #1) By: K.F. Breene

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Book Review: The Alpha’s Warlock, by Eliot Grayson

I saw The Alpha’s Warlock, by Eliot Grayson, recommended on Instagram. I borrowed an audio copy through Hoopla.
the alpha's warlock

Cursed, mated, and in for the fight of their lives….

Warlock Nate Hawthorne just wants a cup of coffee. Is that too much to ask? Apparently. Because instead of precious caffeine, all he gets is cursed by a pack of werewolves who want to use him for his magic. Now the only way to fix the damage is a mate bond to a grumpy and oh-so-sexy alpha in the rival pack, who happens to hate him. This is so not how he wanted to start his day.

Ian Armitage never intended to take Nate as his mate. The Hawthorne family can’t be trusted. Ian knows that better than anyone. The fact that he’s lusted after the way-too-gorgeous man for years? Totally irrelevant. Ian’s just doing what is necessary to protect his pack. This whole mating arrangement has nothing to do with love and never will. That’s his story and he’s sticking to it.

Nate and Ian will have to work together if they have any hope of staving off the pack’s enemies and averting disaster. That’s assuming they can stop arguing (and keep their hands off each other) long enough to save the day….

my review

This wasn’t very good.The idea underpinning it was fine and the writing seemed readable (though I had an audio copy, so that’s hard to judge), and the narrator did a good job. But the execution was simply lacking. The book felt like a second book, though I don’t think it is. The plot is far too focused and centered in a small room with two people and far too little on what is happening in general, such that whole swaths of the plot fell flat and there wasn’t any resulting tension (even in scenes where there should have been). The bickering between Nate and Ian didn’t feel like appreciable banter, but like two adolescents sniping at one another and I didn’t feel the love at all. I gathered that the author was trying to infer the two had had crushes on one another for a while, but you don’t feel it. All in all, this one was a flop for me.

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Other Reviews:

Review: The Alpha’s Warlock (Mismatched Mates #1) by Eliot Grayson

Review: The Alpha’s Warlock by Eliot Grayson

Book Review: The Alpha’s Warlock (Mismatched Mates Book 1) by Eliot Grayson [Audiobook]